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Signatory brands express interest in 'Call to Action'
May '11
A groundbreaking ‘Call to Action’ designed to ban sandblasting, a hazardous process that can cause illness and even death for workers, was adopted earlier this week by ten leading garment brands and retailers in a meeting with the Global Union Federation for the sector. A number of other companies have expressed interest in signing on to the ban.

The agreement was adopted in Brussels by Aurora Fashions, H&M, Bestseller, C&A, Carrefour, Esprit,  Inditex, Karen Millen, Levi Strauss & Co and New Look.

Says Patrick Itschert, General Secretary of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF): “Jeans are one of the most popular items of clothing and a very profitable segment of the market is for ‘distressed’ jeans. The method of choice for giving jeans a faded look is sandblasting, but it is a process which is very damaging to workers’ health. Sandblasting releases dust which, when inhaled, causes scarring in the lungs. This can cause silicosis, an incurable and potentially fatal respiratory disease.

“In the absence of effective government regulation the most effective means of eliminating this harmful process is for brands and retailers collectively to impose a voluntary ban on sandblasting in their global supply chains.

“The signatory companies, all of whom have been tackling the issue of sandblasting individually, recognise the importance of expressing their collective intent. We believe that the Call to Action will be instrumental in generating far-reaching action at different levels, including action on the part of industry and government in producing countries as well as on the part of the EU, the ILO and the WHO.

“We are calling on all brands and retailers that are serious about ending sandblasting in the industry to sign the agreement”, concludes Mr. Itschert.

The Call to Action calls on signatory companies to:

Ban the practice of sandblasting throughout their supply chains including but not limited to the use of aluminium oxide, aluminium silicate, silicon carbide, copper slag and garnet for abrasive blasting;

Work with their suppliers in a transition towards alternative methods, after having established the risks and their means of control;

Take the necessary measures to ensure that the ban is effectively applied throughout their whole supply chain.

International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF)

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